• Turkish Grand Prix - Qualifying

Alonso hails best qualifying of the season

ESPNF1 Staff
May 7, 2011 « Button disappointed with sixth | »
© Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari made a step forward during qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix despite lining up fifth on the grid for the fourth time this season.

Alonso qualified ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button and was 0.8 seconds off Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull on pole position, the closest he has been all year. He said it was proof that Ferrari's upgrades had made a difference, but is hoping it is just the first step in the team's return to form.

"Fifth place is not the sort of result one can be pleased about, but today I am happy because I felt the car was more competitive than it has been in the first three qualifying sessions of the season," he said. "Getting into Q2 without using the soft tyres is significant. We have made a small step forward in terms of performance: it's not yet enough and we quickly need to make a bigger one, but it's definitely a confidence boost for the whole team, who are working in the right direction. I would say that this the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel in this early part of the season."

He said he will have an advantage starting on the clean side of the grid on Sunday, but was not sure how the race would pan out.

"Fifth place also means I avoid the dirty side of the track, which is usually a big handicap here," Alonso added. "It's hard to say what will be the best strategy for tomorrow, because we don't know how the tyres will behave: we will have to be ready for any eventuality and be very flexible. Finally, I want to take the opportunity to express my great sadness at the death of a great personality in Spanish sport, Severiano Ballesteros, who put Spain on the golfing map: I offer all my sympathies to those close to him at this painful time."